Lina Bo Bardi was a Brazilian modernist architect born in Italy. A prolific architect and designer, Lina Bo Bardi devoted her working life, most of it spent in Brazil, to promoting the social and cultural potential of architecture and design. She was also famed for the furniture and jewellery designs.
After graduating from the Rome College of Architecture in 1939 at the age of 25 with her final piece, “The Maternity and Infancy Care Centre”, she moved to Milan to begin working with architect Carlo Pagani in the Studio Bo e Pagani, No 12, Via Gesù. Lina collaborated (until 1943) with architect and designer Giò Ponti on the magazine Lo Stile – nella casa e nell’arredamento. In 1942, at the age of 28, she opened her own architectural studio on Via Gesù, but the lack of work during wartime soon led Bardi to take up illustration for newspapers and magazines such as Stile, Grazia, Belleza, Tempo, Vetrinaand Illustrazione Italiana. The following year, Bardi was invited to run Domus magazine. However, she didn’t receive many commissions before her office was destroyed by an aerial bombing in 1943.
The event prompted her deeper involvement in the Italian Communist Party. In 1945, Domus commissioned Lina to travel around Italy with Carlo Pagani and photographer Federico Patellani to document and evaluate the situation of the destroyed country. Lina, Pagani and Bruno Zevi established the weekly magazine A – Attualità, Architettura, Abitazione, Arte in Milan (A Cultura della Vita). She also collaborated on the daily newspaper Milano Sera, directed by Elio Vittorini. Lina took part in the First National Meeting for Reconstruction in Milan, alerting people to the indifference of public opinion on the subject, which for her covered both the physical and moral reconstruction of the country.
In 1946, Lina moved to Rome and married Pietro Maria Bardi.
In October Lina and her husband travelled to South America. In Rio, they were received by the IAB (Institute of Brazilian Architects). Bardi quickly re-established her practice in Brazil, a country which had a profound effect on her creative thinking. She and her husband co-founded the influential art magazine Habitat. The magazine’s title referenced Bardi’s conceptualization of the ideal interior as a “habitat” designed to maximize human potential.
In 1947, Assis Chateaubriand invited Pietro Maria Bardi to establish and run a Museum of Art. São Paulo was chosen despite Lina’s preference for Rio de Janeiro. MASP (The Museum of Art of São Paulo) was established on 2nd October, with temporary offices on the second floor of the headquarters of the Diários Associados on Rua Sete de Abril. Lina designed the conversion of the building into a museum. She also designed the new headquarters for the Diários Associados on Rua Álvaro de Carvalho, São Paulo, and designed jewellery using Brazilian gemstones.
In 1948, The Studio d’Arte Palma was established on the 18th floor of a building by Polish architect Lucjan Korngold (N˚ 66 Praça Bráulio Gomes, São Paulo), bringing Pietro Maria Bardi, Lina, Giancarlo Palanti (until 1951) and Valeria Piacentini Cirell (responsible for the antiquarian section) together.
Bo Bardi became a naturalized Brazilian citizen in 1951, the same year she completed her first built work, her own “Glass House” in the new neighborhood of Morumbi. Italian rationalism shaped this first work, but immersed in Brazilian culture her creative thinking began to become more expressive.